Letter from “H”, Co. D, from Camp Tenally, dated August 27, 1861

“H”, Jefferson Guards, Co. D, 10th Pa. Reserves.
August 27, 18611

Camp Tenally, Aug. 27, 1861.

Messrs Editors: On receiving the last number of your paper I found no communication from our Regiment, and thought proper to drop you a few lines in order to keep you informed as to our location and movements. Our camp is situated about 2 miles N.E. of Georgetown. and four miles from the chain bridge. Around us are quartered eight or nine other regiments of the reserve corps of our State, and just as I write, the 4th Penna. is marching into our camp. At present we have nothing but the ordinary routine of camp life, of which Regimental and Company Drill, Dress Parade and Guard Mounting are the principle features.

This day one week since we returned from the Great Falls, 14 miles distant, where we had been stationed for the week previous. Our duty there was to guard the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which has recently been opened, and also to act as a reserve that might engage the enemy if they should attempt to cross the Potomac near that place. The Great Falls are picturesque and interesting; as the river approaches the Falls it is divided into a great number of streams, each taking its own course and dashing wildly over several greater or lesser precipices before it reunites with the others. Some two months since while one of the three month’s regiments were stationed there, the rebel’s pickets being on the opposite side of the falls, shot two of their pickets; but about ten days ago Capt. McDaniels and others of our company, scouted back from the falls three miles on the Virginia side and found no evidence of the enemy being in the neighborhood at present.

The fact that it is at the Great Falls where the Washington Water Works will be supplied, has made that place of much greater importance then it would otherwise have been. This great work so far as it has been completed has been constructed in the most substantial manner and it is estimated will cost $4,ooo,ooo when completed, but like almost every other great public enterprise it has been left for the present in its unfinished condition and the public mind turned to that topic which absorbs the attention of every one.

On returning to our camp at this place we had orders to prepare for review at 9 o’clock the next day. Gen. McClelland and Staff and President Lincoln and Cabinet were present with the exception of one or two officers in McClellan’s Staff, and Secretary Cameron of the Cabinet. The troops were drawn up in column, the Cavalry being in front, and Artillery on one flank. Gen. McClellan and Staff were followed by President Lincoln and Cabinet as he reviewed each column separately, the President standing upright in his carriage and apparently scrutinizing them as closely as Gen. McClellan. The number of troops reviewed was about 7,500. Gen. McClellan in speaking of them expressed himself as being much gratified to find them under such good discipline. He said that we have come to save our country, and that it would require our utmost efforts; that he expected to find us all at our post of duty; that in this contest the victory depended more upon the men of the ranks than any others.

Gen. McClellan is a fine looking officer, very commanding, yet unassuming in his appearance, and we doubt not that he is capable of discharging every duty of the responsible position lately assigned to him. Already every thing gives evidence of one being now at the head of affairs in this division who well understands his business. Before he took the command here there was nothing of that order which now prevails – the city was full of soldiers and every one might pass that chose, but now every soldier, unless he has a pass is required to keep close to his camp or is liable to be taken by the patrollers of the Provost Marshal.

On every side things have a military appearance, and judging from the fortifications, entrenchments, &c., that are being made there is no doubt that an early attack is expected upon the city is anticipated. The forests in some places have been felled. The object of this, it is said, is to prevent their affording shelter to the enemy, and also to impede the passage of artillery, baggage trains, &c. Telegraphs are also being erected which connect all points of military importance, and by which uninterrupted communication might be had, even between different portions of the same division or brigade.

There is an unusual stir in camp this evening on account of an order being received from Gen. McClellan for this Brigade to hold itself in readiness to march; the consequence is that every one has his haversack and cartridge-box filled, and is in readiness to move at a moment’s notice. If the order is countermanded we will not be much surprised, being accustomed to countermands. But if we are required to march we are confident the majority will be better satisfied, all being anxious to see some active service.


  1. Washington Reporter & Tribune: 9-5-1861